Monday, April 20, 2015

The BIG Announcement

Well, I think it's time that I shared the big announcement.  Immediate family already knows, so do jobs and schools, etc.

We are moving to Orange County.

Yup, out of the LA/South Bay area, and into the OC.

And while I'm excited, I am, I'm also a little sad.  I've loved having my kids and starting our family here in the South Bay.  It's been a wonderful community for us- both our neighborhood, our friends, and the jewish community that we are a part of.

But here comes the next chapter.

Working Dad got a great brand new job in Aliso Viejo.  And it's great because we both grew up in the OC, and have so much family down there.  Cousins, grandparents, Uncles, Aunts.  They all live down in the OC.  We travel down there almost every weekend, and this puts us even closer to by beloved Sister in Law and her 6 adorable kiddos.

Leaving this area is going to be hard.  One of the things that I've loved about writing this blog has been that it's been a hub of information for the South Bay Jewish community.  We are sort of a bit of a step-child when it comes to the greater Los Angeles community.  It's rare to find any of the JCC's or the Jewish Federation, never mind the PJ Library hosting anything in the South Bay. 

Which is what made it fun for me to connect all the South Bay jews together.  TO get us out there to all the different events.

Well, we're not leaving today, but soon.  I'll keep you posted as we start to explore the Orange County area.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ocho my Ocho- growing up is hard on Mommy

It's official- she's crawling and pulling up to stand.  And I feel like it's the beginning of the end...

If you have more than one child you might realize this point in time.  When you have your first one everything is so new- each accomplishment is just so exciting.  Then you have baby #2.   You have an idea of the map of things.  Of course, they do things differently, but you have some sort of theory about what might happen.  And that's when you realize that you really don't have that much time.

Ocho is officially 8 months old, crawling on her belly and pulling up to stand.  These are great things.  she's right on the mark in terms of timing, and development. That's great.  But I've been overcome with the fact that this is the beginning of the end.

We went to the Huntington Library this past week- sans kiddos thanks to the in-laws.  And they have this beautiful image there:

It's called Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt.  And it's got everything that I feel inside of me.  Most people comment on the watchful eye that mom has on her baby.  The way she's watching baby while baby is watching the world.  But I see so much more...

Yes, Ocho has started to engage in the outside world more than she engages with me.  She's so excited by everything around here that dear old mom is just sort of an exercise in food and comfort.  It's only truly about mom when she's nursing in her rocking chair, and she's let down her guard.  When she has me hold up her little non-nursing side foot and we're cuddled up together....

Otherwise, it's distraction.  It's everything else.  It's crawling to see what else I can get my hands on.  It's exploring the world, and taking everything I'm not supposed to have.

This is the beginning of the end.  This is the time when my baby starts to really become a child.  When she becomes a little girl, and every thing is about what is beyond her- the room, the space, the world. 

Of course, I'm raising an adult.  I'm grooming her to be a productive member of the greater world.  With care and concern, grace and poise, attitude and energy.  So I'll try not to be so sad as she begins to make her own footprints on the world...who knows where she will go...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is Motherhood work? Judaism says YES!

This is one of the most controversial topics today-whether being a stay at home mother can be constituted as work. There are so many different theories on this.  The one where mothers say you shouldn't look at motherhood as work at all- that calling it work devalues it, or makes you treat it like work.  The moms who believe that motherhood should be considered work- that they contribute to the household in so many immeasurable ways that it would be impossible to consider it not work.  Then you have the mothers who work out of the home who think that stay-at-home moms shouldn't call what they do work, because they do that and so much more...  And guilt abounds on each side.
The list goes on and on and on....

I'm a unique subject because I worked outside of the home with children for the first two years of my daughters' life, and I've been a stay at home mom of two since the birth of my second child.  I've had so many different phases of my journey- part-time, work from home, work outside the home, work long hours, work short hours.  You name it, I've probably tried it.  But this isn't about me...

While I never thought that I would really get into the debate personally, I have thought to explore what Judaism thinks about work, and what it might say about motherhood.

I think it's clear to say that Judaism looks at motherhood as work.  So all mothers (outside the home, or not) are Working Moms.  Did I just end the Mommy Wars?

Where did I gather my information- the Jewish Shabbat restrictions.  These are clear-cut understood and dictated restrictions.  They are specific things that we are not allowed to do on Shabbat- the day of rest.  These laws are written in the Torah: Exodus 31: 12-17.

Now here is where things get complicated.  The phrase we are referring to is this one:
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 'Verily ye shall keep My sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the LORD who sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you; every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work (melakha—מְלָאכָה) therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.
However, this just says the word "Work."  But what defines work?  Obviously in our day and age we have a relative definition.  Merriam-Webster says work is one of two things:
1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.  2. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment. 
But Judaism's definition of work is different.  Our Rabbis (friendly reminder, I'm not a Rabbi) didn't have this definition to work off of.  Not to mention, it's not particularly helpful to the debate... any activity involving physical effort to achieve a wiping my nose is work?  What were the Rabbi's to do?  How could they define work more specifically as it relates to Shabbat.  Exodus promises death, so let's try to be clear here....

The answer lies in Genesis 2.  The first time we see in the bible this same word for work- melakha:
Heaven and earth, and all their components, were completed. With the seventh day, G-d finished all the work (melakha—מְלָאכָה) that He had done. He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that he had been doing. G-d blessed the seventh day, and he declared it to be holy, for it was on this day that G-d ceased from all the work that he had been creating to function.
So that gives us some clarity.  We form our definition of work as related to those things G-d was doing during the first six days- creating.  From there the Talmud (Mishna Shabbat 7:2) gives us these specific 39 activities that are work.
Sowing, Plowing, Reaping, Binding Sheaves, Threshing, Winnowing, Selecting, Grinding, Sifting, Kneading, Baking, Shearing Wool, Cleaning, Combing, Dyeing, Spinning, Stretching Threads, Making Loops, weaving threads, separating threads, tying a knot, untying a knot, sewing, tearing, trapping, slaughtering, skinning, salting, scraping, tanning, cutting, writing, erasing, building, breaking down, extinguishing a fire, kindling a fire, striking a final blow, carrying/transference.
So now that we know what Jews think of as work, let's think about the common activities of a Mother.  Here we'll have all sorts of arguments, since some of these things aren't only done by mothers.  Father's and grandparents and caregivers and nannys can do all of these things.  But for just a moment, let's make a list of what a 'mom' might do.The first thing a mother does is give birth.  Do you have to give birth to be a mom, no, but it's the first act to become a mother.

At it's very base level with an infant you might hold and carry your child. Feed your child, clean your child, diaper your child.  As they get a bit older you do their hair, make them food, do the laundry and the dishes.  Help them learn to spell and read, fix their broken teddies bears and toys.  You might help them finish a puzzle, build a block tower, the list goes on.

If you look at Judaism's definition of work, all mothers are clearly doing it.

Birth involves creating at it's most basic form, plus tearing, cleaning, cutting.  Infants require you to carry them (and stuff!) almost all the time.  I can't imagine a mom not at least trying to teach her child to build a block tower, or tying her child's shoes.  Cleaning messy hands, faces, noses- even if you don't include the general cleaning of a home (floors, dishes, etc.)  Baking birthday cakes, cleaning up toys, coloring and writing...The mothers of the world have been debating whether motherhood measures up to this description for decades.   

In the shomer Shabbat world (observant of Shabbat restrictions) a mom can't push a stroller to temple or carry her infant baby their either.  I can't imagine a mother anywhere telling me that's not a basic obligation of motherhood.

So, what do you think?  Is Motherhood work?  Do your views line up with the Jewish definition?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Taking over Easter Decor

Now that it's finally Easter, and the Easter bunny has come and gone this morning, it's time to go out there and snap up some after Easter steals for the season.

Here are my Target finds that work all year long:

Spring has sprung whether there's Easter or not and if I had a baby with a Springtime birthday you could bet that these would be at her party.  The cute floral design is good for a tea party, or a birthday party at any time.  Just adorable, and the price is great at full price, and should be wonderful once they cut it down a touch.

Having a baby girl anytime soon?  Getting married?  These adorable little birdies are great for table tops and totally unique for decor in a little girls room.  Imagine them as part of a wonderful baby mobile, or dressing up the ends of a bookcase.

They would make adorable little items to put along the aisle at a wedding.

Don't think we've forgotten about the boys.  These are 'easter' baskets that would be great for anytime of year.  You have a friend who's into sports- fill this with some balls and a glove, and you've got a spot on birthday present.  Same goes for a pirate party- fill these with pirates booty and a few shovels and the kids party snack food is done.  The dinosaur is especially sweet- I could see that being in a boys bedroom with books inside, or even filled with plastic dinos as a great storage item.

They have a great selection of tiny hands gardening supplies right now.  Though not for easter (so probably not on sale) they would be great gifts for those kiddos or parents with interest in gardening, butterflying, etc.  Sorry the photos aren't the best...

Last but not least these are adorable springtime plates.  In this case both of these are actually microwaveable- something I'm always looking for in dinner plates for my kiddos.  You have the smaller one for the youngins and the larger one for when you get to have toddlers, etc.

These are wonderful items to re-fresh your kids perspective on eating.  Sometimes a toddler dinnertime disaster can be changed around by a new plate.

Here's to springtime!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Using Passover to talk about G-d

A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with my Sister-in-Law.  Let me start by saying that I love her dearly.  We are very close, and I'm fortunate to have her and her family in my life.  Buy my SIL is a devout Christian.  Her children quote bible passages, and all of her children have been baptized.  These are wonderful things for their family.  And sometimes it can lead the two of us, religiously devout individuals of different faiths, to have interesting conversations.

Most recently it was about how Jews view G-d.  The reason it was so interesting, there isn't much talk of G-d in most Jewish homes.

When I was a young child I remember thinking that G-d only loved Christians.  So much of the general christian message is that G-d loves you.  They have bumper stickers and entire rock bands dedicated to making sure they you know that if you accept Jesus- G-d loves you.  Obviously I'm simplifying the message and the meaning, but for a young girl and teenager, just thinking that G-d loves you is a powerful message, and one that's often missing from Judaism.

When we think about how we teach Judaism to our children there are many pieces.  There are the holidays, there are the prayers and there is the language.  But no where in there is a specific discussion about G-d.  

Judaism is generally an action oriented religion.  We spend little to no time talking about what happens after we die, and are devoted entirely to living our life the best we can, with purpose, dignity and mitzvot on this earth and in this way.  Contrast this to the Christian notion of working towards and eternity with G-d, and you can see that there might be a problem with G-dly talk among Jews.

I challenge parents of all children to use Passover as a chance to talk about G-d. 

Use this holiday to teach your children to talk to G-d.  To know that G-d is there, in your everyday.  That, as Rodney Atkins sings, they can talk to G-d like they were talking to a friend.

Passover is the time of year when we talk about miracles.  When we must, with liberal use, talk about amazing things that happened that we can't explain.  There are no Esthers' or Kingly decrees.  There's no Maccabees to blame for our salvation.  There are seas splitting miraculously, and blood, frogs and locusts.  Even if you are a bit squeamish about discussing the deaths for the animals or the deaths of the firstborns, don't shy away from embracing G-d.

Use the phrase G-d did this for me.  Yup.  It's a classic Passover text, but did you really stop to think about what it means?  Yes, it has a sea of meaning in terms of how we have come from slavery in this generation.  But think beyond that.  When you embrace that G-d has an action and an existence in your life- there he will be for your children as well.

I and not an angel, I and not a Seraph.  Again, classic language.  'I' meaning G-d speaking in the first person.  Emphasis again and again that G-d did this.  It's typical for us to talk about how Moses talked to Pharoah and told him to let my people go.  And you could watch the entire movie about Passover and think of the hero Moses.  Don't let the fact that G-d did miracles escape the moment.

Dayeinu.  This song tells the story of how it would have been enough to escape slavery, go through the dessert, get to the promised land, etc.  All of these things are miracles.  This song is an amazing way to discuss how G-d impacts our everyday.  How he's given us Shabbat to relax and reconnect, how everything around us is holy.

At the end of the day, it has to be a conversation between your child and you.  The best way for our children to understand that G-d loves them, and that G-d is present in their lives is for them to hear it from you- their parents.  To point out to our children the wonder of G-d's universe.  The glory of his creations.

The next time your child asks why it's raining- tell them because G-d made it so.  Each time you bring him into your life it makes it easier for your child to turn to him in times of need.

Because he is there for you.  Because he loves you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Passover at Target

I have to say that Target is probably my favorite store right now.  Not only is it convient for me (right down the street) but it has almost everything I need on a given day.  And this is especially true for Passover.  Does it have three types of Matzo Meal?  No.  Is it as good for food shopping as the Ralphs on Sepulveda?  No.  But it is probably the only store that has a selection of Passover decor items.

Target used to re-create their Passover line each year.  In fact the seder plate that I have at my house is marked 2011.  They stopped doing that right at 2011, since the seder plate they are selling this year is the same as that one.  However, I'm still saying hats off to Target for stepping up to the plate and doing something...

Here's the food section.  Again, I wouldn't recommend that you do your shopping here.  Apparently they think we only need to eat Matzo balls, Macaroons and Matza.  Oh, and dessert.  But, never the less, it's sweet that they have the foods and are totally trying.  Good spot to stop if you forget something on the way to someone's house.

Here's why we love Target though- there selection of decor products.  That are actually cute, and totally usable.  All the plastic is BPA free, and although the blue cups were out for Chanukah, they have some truly distinct Passover items that you won't be able to walk into a typical store and find.  

They do have a seder plate (it's on the second shelf) and it's quite nice.  But since I already have it, and it's not new to the Passover line, I didn't take any specific pictures of it.

 The children's seder plate is awful cute- wonderfully colorful, and totally appropriate with both pictures and words.  I'm impressed by their use of Hebrew on the plate, they didn't shy away from including it.  Though not microwave safe, it can go in the dishwasher.

Last year I had 10 kids under the age of 4 at my house.  And I searched high and low for plates for all those kiddos.  I totally should have gotten these.  No need to remember which are the passover dishes- it says so right there!  Part of a a great kiddos set, that's dishwasher safe.

This is where I think Target really stands out.  Yes they have the traditional seder plates, but they also go out of their way to include these decor items.  I'll give you a little hint about Target.  They do a great job of labeling their items. You can see what season/promotion the item belongs to by lifting it up and looking underneath.

See the Jewish star?  That means it was designed exclusively/specifically for a Jewish holiday.  It could have been Chaunkah or Passover, but regardless, it was for the Jewish community.  And that, to me, is where Target wins points.  On the display there were at least two items not specific to the holiday (aka one had a sun since it was a summer item, and another was just a random item) but they are just about the only store that is continuously making items.

So cheers to you Target!  Thanks for including us in the spring time celebration!   Now, just because something isn't marked with a star doesn't mean it wouldn't be adorable at your Passover seder.  Here's a cute selection of items for the kiddos that fall into the Frog theme of the Passover world.  I could just imagine my little girlies in those PJ's and my tiny Ocho in these Froggie slippers!

I'm also always on the lookout for little entertainment items that will keep EG at the table.  This year target didn't disappoint with this adorable frog creation you can make yourself.  While it does involve glue (so may not be appropriate for all seder tables) it's certainly a cute and adorable project that she can do her self.

And thankfully she doesn't look at my blog- so this adorable froggie cup that I bought her for the seder will still be a pleasant surprise.

This post wasn't paid or perked in anyway (though, note to Target, I wouldn't mind getting paid!) I just want to share the goods for everyone.  And I hope that some of you go out there any buy these Target items.  That way they are inspired to continue to make them for us every year.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Passover Fun at Manhattan Village Mall

Wow- a whole new spin on fun in the mall.  I'm so excited to announce that this year the Manhattan Village Mall will be hosting a Passover gathering, rather than just it's usual Easter Bunny Tea party.

So come on down on Sunday, March 29th to join in the fun.

This might seem a bit stupid, but I'm beyond thrilled that they will be doing this project this year.  While the December dilema is published everywhere, and we do a lot to try to take care of it.  The mall has a chanukah night, and there are menorah lightings at most of the major city halls.  But come Passover and Easter, it's a different story.

Rows and rows of candy greet your children in the grocery store.  Then each and every store has out adorable white and pastel colored dresses with big Happy Easter labels.  Even good old Parents Magazine- which promises 'Spring Fun' really means Easter...

Now, to be fair, they do have a single Passover recipe in the back, but far be it from them to include that on the cover....

So, here's to you Manhattan Village Mall- thanks for making space and time for everyone this holiday season.
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